January 20, 2009
Her name was Rose. As every other girl in the kingdom was, she was completely infatuated with the current prince, Prince William Charming the Twelfth. And, as every other girl in the kingdom was, she was completely ignored by the Prince Charming, who probably didn’t even know she existed. But, just as every other girl in the kingdom did, she didn’t even begin to ponder the idea of giving up.
When Prince Charming rode on his horse through town on his weekly visit of the populace, she would throw herself at him, only to be roughly caught by the gauntleted hands of his multiple bodyguards, all ready to protect their charge. And when she was caught, she would be thrown back to the crowd, where everyone knew she belonged.
The bad thing was, she was ugly. And she knew that she was ugly, as every other girl in the kingdom knew she was. Her mother hated her, and would often whine through her perfectly red, perfectly shaped mouth about how unfortunate she was to be stuck with such a terrifyingly hideous disaster while curling back her delicate upper lip to reveal her glistening white teeth. When irritated, she would yell at Rose, but taking care not to contort her smooth face as she opened her mouth. Rose would listen humbly, head drooping, eyes staring steadily at her feet. As soon as her mother realized that Rose wasn’t listening, but instead far away in one of her little fantasies where the prince came and whisked her off of her feet and asked her to marry her, she would reach out with her meticulously manicured hand and slap her with her long, thin fingers. Afterwards, she would flip her golden hair and stalk up the stairs.
One day, Rose’s mother, who we will, from now on, call Belladonna, came to her with a smile plastered onto her astonishingly beautiful face. Eager to please so that this wonderful, rarely seen smile could be kept on her mother’s face, Rose smiled back as sweetly as she could, and handed to her a cup of sweet specialty tea. Belladonna ignored Rose, and trilled, “Oh, my dear Rosie!”
Confused as to what could have brought on this tremendous personality change in her mother, Rose peered up anxiously through her limp brown hair. A nervous looking man dressed in riches stepped in through the threshold. He bared his teeth in what could have been called a smile, and then abruptly closed his lips when he received no reply from the hulking brown haired creature that could’ve been mistaken for a girl.
Paying no attention to the exchange between her daughter and her future husband, Belladonna simpered, “Rosie, this is Benjamin. He is going to be your new father!”
Benjamin, as Rose now knew to call him, leaned in and pecked Belladonna on the cheek. Rose growled instinctively, and the cup she was holding in her calloused hands broke into many shards, which fell to the ground. “Rose!” Belladonna shrieked, looking at the broken pieces in dismay, “How could you! My best china! Why would you?”
Just then, a dainty girl pranced in, with ribbons in her properly curled golden hair, which was the exact color of gold of Belladonna’s hair. Rose looked at her enviously, and wished desperately that she could, just for one day, look like that. After all, that’s all she needed to attract her Prince Charming’s attention. “Father!” she called in a sickeningly sweet voice, “Father, I am tired. May we please sleep here over the night?”
Benjamin bared his teeth lovingly at her. “Of course, dear.”
And then to Rose: “She’s my daughter. Her name is Ella. I trust that you two will get along well, and that you will take care of her very well.”
That last sentence directed toward her was more of a threat than anything else. Rose ducked her head, and didn’t say anything. An awkward silence fell over the room.
“All right, then,” Belladonna smiled, breaking the silence, “Now that you’ve all been acquainted, I’ll just show you to your rooms! Ella, you’ll sleep in the same room as Rose. Benjamin, dear, come along now, follow me to our room.”
Rose silently walked to her room, with Ella following close behind, her oblivious chattering filling the air. Once they reached their room, Rose slammed the door after them and growled at Ella, “You treat my mother well, you hear? I don’t want to hear that you’ve made her cry, for any reason at all. She has a… delicate disposition.”
Ella stared back with doe eyes, her lips trembling.
“You hear?” Rose barked.
Ella burst into tears. Rose was downtrodden as she saw that Ella cried prettily too. “Shut up,” Rose muttered, and threw herself onto the bed, snuffing out the candle as she went, turned around, and pulled her quilt up to her ears.
Ella sniffled for the rest of the night.
The next morning, Rose woke up extremely early, worried and ready to check on her mother. She tiptoed past the puffy-eyed snoring princess and out of the room, only stopping once when she thought she heard a sound come from behind her. She slowly opened the door to her mother’s room, and once sure that Belladonna was safe and sound, she tiptoed downstairs to prepare breakfast.
Soon, her mother and Benjamin were up and bustling. Ella continued to sleep, unaware of the commotion happening below her as her father and Rose’s mother had their first spat- about whether or not Ella should be made to work or not.
Rose was sent to call Ella to wake up, and to tell her that she was to retrieve the mail. When Ella heard this news, she shrieked in disbelief. “Work?” she keened, “Work?! I’ve never had to work before! This is so unfair. Work is for servants. I have to keep my hands perfect for the prince! Father will never hear of this, I am sure of it!”
However, when Ella confronted her father, he just looked at her with helplessness, and told her to fetch the post. Moaning about the unfairness of having to work, she trudged down the past, tears trickling down her face, making sure the neighbors saw her misery. The neighbors shook their heads and started whispering about the cruelty towards to beautiful child. They sighed, and rumors sprang up about child labor and the ruination of innocence.
It went on like this for a fortnight and two days, after which Ella received, what she thought was, her fair share of rest time, when the wedding of Benjamin and Belladonna took place. After the wedding, Ella was again forced to perform what she called, “menial and tiring work,” washing the dishes and making her bed. They kept her inside most of the time, so that the neighbors wouldn’t have to see her weeping face day in and day out, and sent Rose to fetch the post.
A year passed, and Ella came up with a nickname for herself. Cinderella, which she thought was fitting, because, quoth she, “I am forced to perform dirty tasks and deeds every day, with no rest nor any reward to show for my labors. You force me to work for you, as a servant, and give me no compensation for it!”
Her father just smiled, and patted her on the back, calling her his little drama queen, and reminding her that all she did was to set the table and make her own bed. Rose did all the rest, so she wouldn’t have to worry her little head over these things.
Ella just pouted and reminded him that she wasn’t his little Ella, but instead, the slave-girl Cinderella.
Less than three months later, Benjamin caught tuberculosis, and coughed himself to his death. Ella was excused from all of her work, and was allowed to mourn for her father for the traditional month, week and a day. During that time, she wore entirely black, and floated gracefully down and up the street, crying softly to herself, and as always, making sure the neighbors saw. The neighbors murmured sadly about the poor beauty that had lost her father, and deserved much better than to be let stay in the evil woman and her daughter’s house.
A year after Benjamin’s death, Belladonna had become wrinkled and haggard from anguish, while Ella blossomed into a true belle, and the two girls turned seventeen. A royal herald ran to their doorstep, and invited them to Prince William Charming, having recently turned twenty-one’s, grand ball, in which he would find his future bride.
Ella screeched in excitement, and immediately ordered Rose to find an appropriate ball gown for her. Rose immediately obliged, and ran off to their room to have her own happy celebration alone, because she knew that if she cheered as well, Ella would laugh at her in scorn and tell her that she had no chance with the prince. Well. She’d show her, she’d be the one the prince chose. He would ask her to dance, and they would whisk past Ella, who would be puffy-eyed and her snot would be running down her face. Rose would just look at her sympathetically, while telling her that the prince loved her for her personality, and that looks never had anything to do with anything…
But in the meanwhile, Rose had to listen to Ella’s commands and obey. So she did, and she grabbed the best gown and the accessories that went with it, and ran down the stairs before Ella could scream for her to hurry up, and the neighbors would think that it was Ella screaming in pain again, that they were beating her one more time, and whisper about child abuse and their ugliness that made them hate beauty.
After giving Ella her ready-picked outfit, Rose stole upstairs to find the dazzling gown that would definitely catch anyone’s attention. She chose her mother’s wedding dress and hoped that it would bring her some luck. Over the next week, she changed the dress so that it would fit her, taking out flowers where it was unnecessary, and embroidering more beauties on to add to the dress’s extravagance.
Over the next week, Rose perfected her outfit and that of Ella’s, as well as their mother’s. She ordered a carriage and made everything perfect for the perfect night.
Then, the night of the ball arrived. It seemed as if it were too early, as if they still needed more time to perfect things, to make everything better, but there was no more time. Rose was making the finishing touches to everyone’s hairstyles when a voice called out, “Carriage for the beauties! Carriage for the beauties of the town!”
Ella giggled childishly, and poked her head out of the door. “That would be us,” she responded coyly, sticking out her hand for the boy to kiss. The boy stared at her in wonder, and, as if in a dream, bent down, still looking into her eyes, and kissed her hand softly.
“Come now, let us not delay,” Belladonna said curtly, briskly sweeping out of the door. As old as she was now, Belladonna still struck a formidable figure.
As if seeing her family for the first time, Ella gasped. “Oh,” she babbled, “ Oh, well, you can go ahead of me, I’ll come right after, I just need to fix my hair-“
Rose interrupted, “What she means is, she couldn’t bear be seen with such an ugly family.”
Belladonna sighed, and her age showed on her face. “Alright, you can stay behind. We’ll just send the carriage back after we reach the palace. Try not to be too late, being early is now the fashion, I’ve heard.”
And as the carriage left their house with only Belladonna and Rose sitting inside, and Ella looking out at the retreating vehicle longingly, the neighbors all saw. They began whispering about the poor would-be belle of the ball who was left home by her cruel stepmother and stepsister, all the while preparing for the ball themselves.
Not long after, the carriage came back for Ella, but by that time, all the neighbors were gone, and none saw the boy pick Ella up to go the ball in the palace. All they saw was Ella entering the ballroom alone, and they invented a story to spread rumors about, telling each other that she stole out after her cruel stepmother and stepsister left, and walked, by foot, to the palace. “Poor girl,” they whispered, shaking their heads, “Poor girl.”
After being announced, Ella still stayed far from her family, and pranced around like a pony in a parade, attracting the attention of many an important duke or governor, and after many dances with a great number of people of importance, the prince Charming as well. Asking her to dance, and paying no heed to poor Rose, who was standing alone, in a corner, having turned away a handsome duke and one heir of an enormous inheritance, the prince swept Ella up and began asking her questions about her life.
They whisked past Rose, who was weeping by then, and Ella, looking at her sympathetically, told her that the prince loved her for her looks, and that personality never had anything to do with anything.

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